Police are appealing for witnesses following Britain’s first “Bitcoin heist,” in which a trader was held at gunpoint and ordered to transfer the cryptocurrency.
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police told Mashable that police are investigating the “aggravated burglary” which took place in a residential property in Moulsford, Oxfordshire, on 22 Jan.
“Officers were called at about 9.40am to a report that offenders had entered a residential property off Reading Road and threatened the occupants. No one was seriously injured during the incident,” the spokesperson said.
The Mail on Sunday spoke to residents of the village who were in a state shock: “For something like this to happen here is terrifying,” one villager said. “It’s a very quiet place and, although there is a lot of money round here, a digital currency heist is the last thing anyone would expect – particularly during the school run.”
According to the Mail, a group of armed thieves broke into a house in the village and “forced a cyber-currency trader to transfer” funds in Bitcoin via his computer. The quantity transferred is not known.
Mashable senior editor and cryptocurrency expert Stan Schroeder says this incident highlights potential problems that could arise with a cryptocurrency-fuelled future.
“Doing your own banking on a decentralised, tamper-proof ledger is great if you want to circumvent banks, but on the other hand it’s easier to rob a physical person than a bank, especially if all their money is protected by a blockchain private key, which is typically a string of letters and numbers,” says Schroeder.
“It’s possible that our decentralised, blockchain future will also include very centralised methods to protect one’s assets — i.e. institutions which can guard them with guns and manpower,” he continues.
No arrests have been made but “initial enquiries suggest this may be a targeted incident,” said police.
Police have appealed for anyone travelling through the village on the morning of 22 Jan. to send them their Dashcam or mobile phone footage.
Anyone with information can call Thames Valley Police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.